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20/12/2011
I HAVE WINTER TYRES

WINTER IN SAFETY

The sticker that identifies vehicles equipped with four winter tyres, an Assogomma initiative in collaboration with road policing units, aims to speed up road checks during the winter

 

Paolo Ferrini

As part of the "Winter in Safety" campaign begun many years ago to encourage the use of winter tyres, "put the sticker on your windscreen" is where Assogomma suggests drivers place the small, unobtrusive sticker with the words "I have winter tyres" (we mentioned it in the previous issue, Ed). The initiative was presented to the public on 13 October by Assogomma director Fabio Bertolotti, and Roberto Sgalla, director of the Servizio Polizia Stradale (road policing service). The aim is simple: highlight the fact that these cars are equipped with four winter tyres that are new, or at least in good condition, and help police checking operations. They will waste less time checking cars and waste less of our time, too. An excellent idea.
"A correctly equipped vehicle is the first step towards travelling safely" - Roberto Sgalla emphasized. "Since 2003 we have been working with Assogomma on promoting targeted safety campaigns for checking tyre condition, pressures and wear. Our commitment increases with the approach of winter, when rain or snow make roads slippery and the role played by tyres is even more important".
The stickers are free and are issued by the tyre specialists who mount the brands by the tyre manufacturing companies that are members of Assogomma. Displaying the sticker is not compulsory as it is not a provision of the Highway Code or of any regulation. In the same way as the "child on board" stickers, people are free to use them or not, but it is also a means of drawing public attention to winter tyres and their unquestionable advantages regarding traction and road holding, not only on snow but also when ambient temperatures drop below +7°C and contact with a cold road surface requires a different grip.
Obviously, Italy is long and narrow and in areas where winters are milder, less attention is given to winter tyres. However, Italians (in the more "wintery" regions, of course) are showing more interest in them and this is demonstrated also by the market trend.
"Ten years ago, the winter tyre market was limited to mountainous areas or where heavy snowfalls are a regular occurrence: they were products that replaced the old studded tyres" - Fabio Bertolotti stated. "In fact, in 2005/2006 only about one million replacement winter tyres were sold compared to a total market of over 25/26 million. In other words, it was a very limited niche market just five years ago. Over the past two years, and last winter in particular, there has been a significant increase in the market with sales of 6.5/7 million units. Strong growth is again forecast for 2011/2012 and sales could reach 10 million units".
This means a third of the entire domestic market for replacement tyres. Which goes a long way to explaining the recent interest in them and has made Italy an important market for winter tyres.
But the public's increased interest in winter tyres is not an exclusively Italian phenomenon. The manufacturers point out that, albeit at different levels, for some years now the market has been "booming" all over Europe. In previous years, this created problems of supply, but steps are being taken to try to ensure greater availability.

 


• Regulations

 

The change of terminology and the equivalence with "chains on board" allow road owner and/or management companies to issue specific regulations in application of art. 6 of the Highway Code, which envisage a specific time period and no longer solely the presence of snow on the road. Failure to observe these regulations is subject to fines by the law enforcement agencies and drivers will be prohibited from continuing their journey until they have acquired winter tyres or snow chains.

 


• Road Sign


The absence of a specific road sign contributed to hindering the effect of certain regulations and gave rise to heated discussions about the requirement to circulate with winter tyres or with snow chains on board. This year there is a sign. It is brand new and will be positioned "in loco" at the appropriate time.

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